Loss-of-heterozygosity facilitates a fitness valley crossing in experimentally evolved multicellular yeast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Determining how adaptive possibilities do or do not become evolutionary realities is central to understanding the tempo and mode of evolutionary change. Some of the simplest evolutionary landscapes arise from underdominance at a single locus where the fitness valley consists of only one less-fit genotype. Despite their potential for rapid evolutionary change, few such examples have been investigated. We capitalized on an experimental system in which a significant evolutionary shift, the transition from uni-to-multicellularity, was observed in asexual diploid populations of Saccharomyces cerevisiae experimentally selected for increased settling rates. The multicellular phenotype results from recessive single-locus mutations that undergo loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) events. By reconstructing the necessary heterozygous intermediate steps, we found that the evolution of multicellularity involves a decrease in size during the first steps. Heterozygous genotypes are 20% smaller in size than genotypes with functional alleles. Nevertheless, populations of heterozygotes give rise to multicellular genotypes more readily than unicellular genotypes with two functional alleles, by rapid LOH events. LOH drives adaptation that may enable rapid evolution in diploid yeast. Together these results show discordance between the phenotypic and genotypic multicellular transition. The evolutionary path to multicellularity, and the adaptive benefits of increased size, requires initial size reductions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20212722
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1976
StatePublished - Jun 8 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Fundación Martín Escudero (to B.B.-C.). was created with BioRender.com. Acknowledgements

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Royal Society Publishing. All rights reserved.


  • evolutionary landscapes
  • genotype-phenotype map
  • loss of function
  • loss-of-heterozygosity
  • Multicellularity
  • underdominance

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Loss-of-heterozygosity facilitates a fitness valley crossing in experimentally evolved multicellular yeast'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this